The Spiritual Meaning of Butterflies

October 22, 2012

Ever have a butterfly flit across your path as you take a walk in the late morning?  What did it make you think of, with its little wings buoying it up into the air time and time again?  Was it flying with purpose, racing down the road to the next patch of flowers?  Butterflies can teach us a lot on a spiritual level, and given that I've been a nearly-professional butterfly watcher, I'm going to share some of my insights.

A black swallowtail larvae munches on some parsley in a garden
A black swallowtail larvae munches on some parsley in a garden, mimicking bird poop with its black body and white stripes.

First, butterflies can teach us that life isn't always about being an adult.  In most cases for butterflies and moths, the adult stage is the shortest lived life stage they have.  Butterflies tend to spend longer as egg, caterpillar and/or pupa than they do as adults.  We can apply this idea to our own lives and make the life stage that we're in now, the most important one.

Second, and along these lines, butterflies have two main strategies for dealing with the world around them: They either make themselves obnoxiously visible, in often gorgeous colors, or, in stark contrast, ridiculously hard to find.  Though some of these more obnoxious color schemes mimic more poisonous organisms, or indicate that they are, themselves, poisonous, the fact remains that more visible creatures have a higher chance of being picked off by some unsuspecting predator.

The ones that blend in, they play it smart, but at what cost?  It certainly may make mates harder to find.  But drab-colored moths and butterflies with bright eye spots may frighten away potential predators.  We can apply this duality within ourselves - which part of yourself do you want to camouflage?  Which part do you want to show to the world?  Putting on a brave face, like those butterflies with bright colors, may be a good strategy... but sometimes, you should probably just go ahead and fade into the background.  Have you dreamed of butterflies?  What colors are they?

Butterflies are also, for us, symbols of getting a fresh start.  Although adult butterflies may retain some memories of their caterpillar experiences, emerging as an adult butterfly is an iconic way to get a fresh start.  If you want to wipe clean your slate, you may want to visualize pupating, shedding all that is wrong with you, and then emerging as an adult butterfly, fresh faced and ready to return to the world.

4 comments on “The Spiritual Meaning of Butterflies”

  1. That's really awesome, but i like blending in with bright colors, how many people really see the butterfly when it passes by, how many pay attention to a small colorful yet beautiful butterfly, usually the good people take time to stop and stare, the rest don't even look because they're living In a world of money, and butterfly's might land on some money, that's when they get some attention

  2. We released dozens of Monarch Butterflies at my father's funeral. Since then my wife and I have had several wonderful and unique experiences surrounding them, at moments when we least would expect it, where a large monarch would suddenly appear fly around us then fly off. In one such case, my son who was my father's first born grandson, and one that he was very attached to. He came out to visit me just a few days after I myself had had a wonderful experience with a large yellow and black monarch that had dropped straight down from the top of an oak tree, just as I'd glanced up threw the tree tops at the early morning sky. The butterfly free fell straight down towards me until is came within just a few feet then it flapped it's wings, flew around me twice then flew away. The day that my son came, he walked up to me and we hugged after not seeing one another for several months. As we hugged, seemingly that very same large yellow and black monarch suddenly appeared, flew around us a couple of times than flew off. We were standing out in the middle of a large clearing on that same property, so I was quite thrilled, believing that my father's spirit might have played a role in manipulating that butterfly to come coincidentally come around us, as a way of reaching out to us. Letting us know that he was alright and that he loved us.

    A few days later, I shared the stories about the butterfly with my friends wife and she coincidentally spoke up and stated all on her own that the butterflies were a sign of my father's spirit reaching out to me. She then told me of her own father's passing and her experience with butterflies, which she'd mentioned to someone else that had told her the very same thing. I personally was quite tickled at the idea and feel that it is a wonderful explanation that is as good, if not better than any other. I personally have had several spiritual interactions in my life, and know that this is very much how they can and often do reach out to try and get our attention.

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